Pieces make display debut in 'Lately' exhibit

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The “Lately” exhibit in the Paul R. Jones Collection of American Art will be on display until August 7.  CW | Shelby Akin

Sam West

“Lately” is a diverse collection of artwork. The exhibition includes prints, paintings, photographs, mixed-media pieces and collages. The works are all contemporary pieces made in the last 40 years, and they all will made their public debut in “Lately.”

“[The pieces] represent works that have fairly recently been donated to the collection,” said Emily Bibb, the gallery’s collections manager. “It’s nice to get those new things out there and show off what’s come into 
the collection.”

All of the works are part of the larger Paul R. Jones Collection of American Art. The pieces in “Lately” were among the 2,100 that the late Jones donated to UA in 2008.

A notable artist whose work is displayed in “Lately” is William Dooley, associate professor at Alabama, and director of the Sarah Moody Gallery of Art. His piece “Untitled (Composition with Oxbow)” is an abstract work featuring several curved shapes in brown, white and orange.

Dooley’s piece is one of many similar works he created over two-and-a-half years. Making the prints in his “Oxbow” series involved placing different organic inks and gesso (a thick primer used in artistic painting) on paper. The artist would allow this to dry and then return to it, repeating this process as many as 15 times. The ink and gesso would react with each other in different ways, and the layering of the two elements would yield a variety of visual results.

Dooley described this process as experimental, almost scientific.

“It had a lot of control, yet there’s this kind of chaos that emerges in the compositions that survived,” he said.

Another well-known artist whose work is featured in “Lately” is Jacob Lawrence, whose print “Studio” depicts an artist at work.

A few pieces in the show were composed by unknown artists. These works have no signature or an illegible one but are still included 
in “Lately.”

This speaks to the diversity of the exhibition and the Paul R. Jones Collection as a whole. Jones was a voracious buyer of art, and he had an inclusive philosophy about the works he would purchase.

“If he liked it, he bought it,” said Katie McAllister, director of the Paul R. Jones Gallery. “If he liked the artist, he would buy most of their work.” McAllister said that Jones also 
personally befriended many of the artists he patronized.

Dooley spoke of a bright future for the Paul R. Jones Collection beyond this exhibit. “In ten years’ time, I expect that collection to grow to about 7,500 pieces, if everything goes well,” he said.

Admission to the gallery is free to the public.